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A publication from the IDI

Issue 2 June 2010

In this Issue: Design Challenge Adventures in Austin Channel 4 Racing Zinc Design ratio: 1

A publication by the Institute of Designers in Ireland

Issue 2, June 2010.

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Welcome: Firstly, I would to say that it is a great honour to be elected President of the Institute of Designers in Ireland (IDI) and to indicate how much I am looking forward to the year ahead. We are very grateful to our Past-President Damian Cranney for the professional leadership, as well as the new initiatives he introduced during his year in office. Damian created the concept of the Ratio e-zine. This online publication will become an extremely valuable resource for our network, as well as an important historic Irish design archive. I am also looking forward to working with the newly elected council members. With their help we will provide you with the support, information and activities you need to further your work and interest in contemporary Irish design. Those of you who attended our very recent annual general meeting will have already heard my aims and objectives for the next twelve months. It is my intention to expand our excellent online networking service, as well as impressive publications, with frequent networking events throughout the year. At the first meeting of the new council in May, I asked each of the council representatives to organize at least one event for the various disciplines they now lead. However, you should also play your part by letting us know what sort of activities you would like in order to make this initiative more meaningful. From our initial brainstorming it is clear that there is a huge interest in continued professional development. Up-skilling workshops such as computer aided design, amongst many others, could easily be taught by our members. Expertise could be freely provided by IDI designers hungry to improve their ability in a wide range of disciplines as part of a knowledge exchange programme. There is much concern regarding government policies that impact the design industry. There is a groundswell of interest in creating events that provide an opportunity for IDI members to more fully discuss these major issues and their implications for design industry and educational sectors in Ireland. On a much lighter note, a range of informal social events where we can share are work and ideas are also being planned. Events such as pecha kucha’s or portfolio nights would be a fun way for us to meet up to design story-tell, inform, and influence

Why Join IDI? The Institute of Designers in Ireland is the professional body representing the interests of Irish designers. We are an all-island organisation with approximately 350 members. By becoming a member, you will benefit from: • frequent opportunities to network with design professionals, within and outside your discipline • a listing of your profile and contact details in our printed annual as well as in our online directory • news on design events listed on our website and in this members’ publication; Ratio • support and advice on professional best practice, including access to codes of professional conduct and conditions of engagement • access to our database of members • invitations to a wide range of design events, including the annual Design Awards • membership of a professional design institute affiliated with global design representative groups and recognized by the Irish government and state bodies

Derek McGarry MIDI President, Institute of Designers in Ireland

one another. To make the most of these ideas we must also collaborate more frequently with other design organizations across the country. Simply stated, my ideal is to work towards building an organization that functions much like the in-flight entertainment system that you may have used onboard a long-haul flight. My vision is to create an IDI that is much more of an interactive design network that members can frequently plug into. Without question our members are our greatest asset and resource. Together we can generate a wide variety of knowledge based activities to create an educational and infotainment system, a system that allows us to share our enthusiasm for the development of design in Ireland. A year from now, when I hand over the IDI reins to President-elect Carol Coffey, I promise to report back to you to highlight the very best events we organized over the next twelve months.

Cover: Zinc Design - For information on membership visit

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Design: Con Kennedy A publication by the Institute of Designers in Ireland

Issue 2, June 2010.


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News: Best of Irish Design

Follow Us The New IDI website was also launched this month. Many thanks to Karen

Fostering New Talent

Hanratty MIDI and Stewart Curry MIDI, who have worked tirelessly to create an excellent user friendly website for all our members. We’re also on Facebook, Linked in, You Tube and twitter as @IDIIRELAND so let’s keep in touch!!

As part of the IDI’s commitment to foster professionalism and nurturing design talent amongst our members and recent graduates we are seeking to introduce a new mentoring initiative. Mentoring is an important component of continuing education for professional designers and provides a platform for individual members to express their views and keeps the design profession abreast of developments within the sector. Mentoring usually involves one-to-one sessions with someone in a relevant discipline with more experience than the learner. Mentors are senior and trusted confidants who help more junior professionals with their career direction. Mentors help their protégés work out where they want to go and how to get there by sharing their own insights and experiences. This is a process through which two or more colleagues work together to reflect upon current practices, expand, refine and build new skills, share ideas, conduct The Best of Irish Design Handbook 08/09 is out now. Following on from the IDI Awards 2009, the handbook includes the short listed work from the awards, the winning Graduate Designers work and the membership directory. The re-design is thanks to all the team at Zinc and with its detachable markers the book offers a more functional way to highlight and promote your work. Please contact the IDI office if you haven’t received your Handbook.

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action research and learn from one another. If you would like to participate in this new iniative, either as a Mentor or a Mentee please contact Ailbhe on 01 489 3650 or

IDI Annual General Meeting 2009 The IDI AGM took place this year in the Fitzwilliam Hotel on 29th April 2009. President Damian Cranney MIDI looked back on the year that in spite its challenges had a number of success including a new vision and purpose for the IDI, increases in communication with our members and the celebration of creativity which is our annual design awards. He thanked the outgoing council members and welcomed the new incoming council members. Damian then welcomed Derek McGarry MIDI as the President for the coming year. Derek set out his objective’s for the coming year, to better utilise the networking potential of the IDI by increasing the number of high quality design events and services, organised by and for our members, throughout the entire calendar year. He spoke about the importance of the IDI as a leading design body with the ability to inform and influence industry, government bodies and the wider public.

Pictured above: Damian Cranney MIDI - Immediate Past President Carol Coffey MIDI - IDI President-Elect Derek McGarry MIDI - IDI President Ailbhe Lee - Executive Officer

email A publication by the Institute of Designers in Ireland

Issue 2, June 2010.

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dignitaries and business leaders. Overall dimensions must not exceed 300 x 150 x 150mm to facilitate storage and transport. You are to create a range of

Design Challenge Derek McGarry

designs in any material including metal ceramic, glass, fabric and wool. These gifts will retail from €750-€5000, and


the design must clearly reflect this value. Future Learning Environments

In December 2009, during the Institute of Designers in Ireland (IDI) /Crafts Council

(Architecture & Interior Design/design

of Ireland (CCoI) Generation exhibition at the National Craft Gallery, I worked with


Leslie Ryan, CCoI Education Officer, to organise a one day design challenge for five

You have been commissioned Kilkenny

high schools at Butler House in Kilkenny. A multidisciplinary team of IDI designers

City Council to design the interior of

volunteered to work with a large group of teenagers as they addressed a number of

the New Arts Centre in Kilkenny. This

interesting design problems. This event was not only great fun but a really super way

shared creative learning space will be

to introduce design to young adults who may now look at the world around them with

used by the people of Kilkenny learn

fresh insight.

about art, craft and design through a variety of different programmes. Design

The design challenge ran in conjunction

Design Challenges

quality and design orientated values. This

a learning environment that will address

with the Generation exhibition which I

Identity/Branding (Fashion and Textiles)

transformation plan should appeal to the

both the current and future needs and

organised with Ann Mulrooney, Gallery

It is widely recognised that school

teenage market and reflect who we are

functions of different user groups within

Director at the CCoI. The exhibition was

uniforms are a fundamental part of

and how we live.

the community particularly youth. Look at

the first time the IDI and CCoI have

secondary school life however, it is also

collaborated to promote the very best of

clear that they are not popular with many

Re-designing the Gaelic Athletic

and wherever the opportunity for learning

emerging design and craft work in Ireland.

students. You have been commissioned

Association (Multi-disciplinary)

might present itself. Consider that there

The juried exhibition ran from last October

by the Dept of Education to design the

The GAA is one of the most recognisable

are many ways to learn, and that we all

to mid-January. The show combined the

uniform of the future. This new uniform

brands in Ireland today. It is the GAA’s

have different learning needs. Therefore,

work of nineteen IDI graduate design

including accessories should consist

vision to bring the excitement of it’s

a successful learning environment must

award winners with work from eleven

of a variety of items both girlswear and

unique combination of fast-paced

take into account a variety of learning

emerging craft designers who have recently

boyswear that can be worn throughout the

gameplay and grass-roots community

styles. For example: Visual, Audio and

established small businesses across the

year. You will also need to consider the

to an international audience. It plans

Kinesthetic and Digital.

country. During the exhibition the CCoI

different environments in which it will

to compete with other global sports like

invited a selection of exhibitors to present

be used and all parties impacted by the

soccer, basketball and tennis. You have

The students were provided with laptop

lunchtime public lectures to explain and

change (students, school board, parents,

been asked to present your vision for

computers and software to help them

promote their work.

etc). The solution must be at least as

the Gaelic Athletic Association. This

make a small number of five minute

the common interior and exterior spaces

cost effective as the current solution. It

comprehensive re-design is to start with

progress reports throughout the day.

All of the schools participating in the

is expected that your design will reflect a

the vision, and your presentation is to

Initially, only a few students had the

design challenge had visited the exhibition

more contemporary vision of school life

show how this will be integrated into all

computer experience to generate the

but perhaps had little knowledge of design

than currently exists in Ireland.

aspects of the organisation. The GAA is

necessary digital presentations. However,

or the methodology designers use to

particularly eager to learn how this new

very quickly the eight IDI designers guided

problem solve. Five design challenges were

Identity/Branding (Visual Communication)

vision will inspire a contemporary range of

each of the teams to a point where they

introduced to the participants. Forty pupils

The ‘C’ Word. The word craft is widely

sports trophies, medals and kit.

were able to manage this task. In fact, by

were then divided into five mixed school

associated with traditional old fashioned

teams and asked to select a favourite

values and perhaps seen as irrelevant

Corporate Gift Wear (Craft Design)

really accomplished three dimensional

design challenge to solve. The wide ranging

in the 21st Century. With the shift to

It is widely recognised that Ireland

digital illustrations of their concepts. The

challenges asked the teams to address

mass production you can now find what

is a world leader in craft design. You

mixed school groups quickly gelled and

design topics such as contemporary

you want, when you want it at low cost.

have been commissioned by Enterprise

thoroughly discussed the problems during

cultural and community identity, national

As future consumers and potential

Ireland to design a range of contemporary

the first research and development phases.

brand identity in business, culture and

designers of Irish Craft, you have been

corporate gifts that reflect a new

sports, as well as contemporary school

commissioned by Craft Council to develop

vision of Ireland in the 21st century.

Each team worked extremely hard

uniforms and improved educational

a campaign to transform the current view

It is anticipated that these gifts will

to tackle their design challenge. The


of Irish craft to reflect contemporary, high

be presented to visiting international

team addressing the Future Learning

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Top: Generation Exhibition Middle: Arts Centre Bottom: Gael Box

the end of the day several teams created

A publication by the Institute of Designers in Ireland

Issue 2, June 2010.

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Environments were particularly impressive. They found a suitable vacant terraced building near to Butler House and began a series of site visits. By combining site measurements and aerial photography from Google Earth they were able to create a detailed renovation plan. Their completed design submission included exterior and interior elevations to describe a new multipurpose, multi-generational, arts centre complex. Having never used the CAD software, the students became so adept at Google sketch-up 7.0 that they were downloading artwork for the interior walls and even created a teenagers graffiti room inside their digital model. Another outstanding concept was created

their students. The following comments

amazing project manager on the winning

by the team addressing the Corporate Gift

from teachers help to explain the

team. Another student that surprised me

Wear design challenge. Anticipating that

excitement on the day and the success of

was a student that is the youngest in the

pupils and teachers who made the challenge

this team would work to develop craft based

the design challenge model.

group, the smallest and the quietest. He

so meaningful through much hard work and

was in a group with fifth year students


solutions, we were enormously impressed to see them develop an innovative product

‘Today may bring students into a career

from another school. He ran the show in

called Gael Box. This digital interactive

in design and making which they may not

that group. Immediately he took the Mac

In closing, I would also like to say thanks

device, complete with built-in wifi and

otherwise have considered. This is design,

and began designing. He turned out to be

to Anne Mulrooney and Leslie Ryan

mini-projector, contains a compendium of

alive and in action with young people. In

a great project manager. He delivered one

for helping to organise the Generation

cultural content including an Irish art and

fact any-age people! I loved the action,

of the presentations and was comfortable

exhibition and design challenge. Our first

design database, music, and literature.

loved taking part, I loved doing. This is

with all the IT requirements. He listened

collaboration with the CCoI was extremely

This design concept is an outstanding

the best kind of experience and today was

to suggestions and allocated jobs. It was a

successful. However, the challenge event

example of creative thinking going beyond

one of those!’

team effort but he helped focus them as a

would not have been possible if the IDI

group. One of my students that came to the

designers had not freely volunteered their

‘The students were so intent on achieving

event is extremely shy, he isn’t a great mixer

services. Many thanks to Susan McGowan,

The pupils working to rebrand the Gaelic

their briefs that they actually worked

and barely talks when asked a question. He

Anthony Cleary, Simon Dennehy, Naoise

Athletic Association (GAA) produced really

through lunch and sent one student to

totally blossomed in this design/innovative

O’Conchubhair, Garvin de Bruir, Julian

dynamic graphic solutions for apparel,

get snacks for them. I have never seen

environment. He found that he had a great

Berwick, and Mary B. White (NCAD

equipment and merchandise for both

that happen before. It was great for me

skill on ‘Sketch-up’,and he also did one of

Fulbright Scholar, USA) for their generosity

Hurling and Football. The IDI should now

to be able to witness that and share this

the Powerpoint presentations which he got a

and expertise.

help this team develop their innovative

information with other teachers in our

great sense of achievement from. He came

designs by approaching Enterprise

school, who were also shocked by the

across very well and it has really boosted his

Ireland, the GAA and kit manufacturer

progress of some of the students since

confidence. This confidence has stayed with

O’Neill’s, to establish a collaborative

the design challenge.’ Liz Ket - Teacher

him and he was more interactive in art class

research and development project.

Grennan College

since the design challenge’.

The design challenge was an exhilarating

‘This day is a chance for designers to get


experience for all of the participants. The

first hand information/experience from

Organising and participating in the design

pupils rolled up their sleeves and work

people who do not normally have a voice

challenge was extremely rewarding. Clearly

feverishly to produce innovative solutions

in this process. i.e. teenagers.’ Robert

the schools crave more design content and

to our design challenges. All of the

Dunne, teacher, Castle Comer community

problem solving methodology as an integral

participants developed a new appreciation


part of the curriculum. They also seek more

our preconceived expectations.

only for the design process. For the

Opposite Page: GAA re-brand

opportunities to engage with designers who

Top: School uniform drawing

first time, teachers began to recognise

‘A student that comes across as quite

can discuss career opportunities with their

Middle: Student working

emerging leadership ability in many of

disorganised and ‘scatty’ in school was an

pupils. My gratitude is expressed to the

Right: Designers working with students

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A publication by the Institute of Designers in Ireland

Issue 2, June 2010.

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Adventures in Austin… A Review of South by Southwest Interactive 2010

Below: Valerie Casey - Designers Accord Bottom: Michel Gondry - filmmaker, artist and musician

Damian Cranny MIDI

Our recent globe-trotting trek to Austin, Texas can in some ways be described as a brain-frying overwhelm of new information, trends, and insight gleaned form a shotgun visit to the lone star state to attend the indomitable South by Southwest. The 4 day interactive conference was marked by a cacophony of tweets, hash-tags and buzzing iphones punctuated by the omnipresent ‘sxsw’ acronym. Stephen (from frank) and I were

Valerie Casey of the Designers Accord

A great session that got under the skin

latecomers to the party - tragically

gave a compelling talk on how design

of how to roll-out a transmedia (or

disorganized, we made a last ditch

can affect social change. A stalwart of

multiplatform) marketing campaign.

decision to apply for Invest NI’s trade

Pentagram, Frog and Ideo and apparently

REPO MEN Director, Miguel Sapochnik,

mission and shipped out to Austin,

one of Business Week’s ‘World’s most

joined the author of Wired Magazine’s

arriving on Saturday with three days

influential designers’, Casey gave a very

‘Vanished’ project Evan Ratliffe and

of digital inspiration ahead of us. The

polished pitch on the Designers’ Accord

Double Barrel Motion Labs CEO Jeff

event itself is difficult to describe. The

values and social agenda.

Krelitz in a discussion about extending

format pans out as a series of talks,

the story of new movie REPO MEN into

panel discussions, workshops and

Earlier that day, filmmaker, artist and

the virtual world. The session featured

book signings. There are wall-to-wall

musician Michel Gondry (The Science of

the debut of the film’s motion comic

demonstrations of new software and

Sleep, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless

character lead-in to the film.

social media tools. And there’s beer… lots

Mind) discussed his remarkable body

of beer.

of work and his latest film, an intimate

As Stephen and I went along wearing our

portrait of his family entitled The Thorn In

multiplatform hats, we were interested

The four day interactive event makes way

The Heart which was screened at SXSW.

in the crossover worlds of Frank’s work

for the music conference which runs for

Inspiring, reflective and quite hilarious.

in digital and moving image. SXSW

the following five days. Alongside both,

seemed to serve up a feast of content

a week long film conference takes place

We attended an excellent panel discussion

and breaking trends in this area. In fact

and for me, the most exciting talks and

called ‘Interactive Documentaries: A

I can’t imagine another event anywhere

workshops we attended where when two

Multidimensional Narrative’. The panel

in the world that would have a such

or three of these disciplines converged.

suggested that documentaries are just

a concentration on brand, digital and

not about ‘documenting’ an event - they

motion graphics. Perhaps the shining

Twitter seemed to be everywhere at

interpret and synthesize many sources

light in this regard was ‘Multiplatfrom

the conference. Apparently it was at

of information to explain a situation or

Storytelling’, a talk delivered by the

SXSW, that Twitter went stratospheric

express a specific point of view. Panellists

creator of ABC’s ‘Heroes’ TV series, Tim

in 2007 - no surprise then that Twitter

used their experience and case studies

Kring. Once upon a time, storytelling

CEO Evan Williams, rocked up for a

to ask where the user interacts with this

was restricted to a single and isolated

keynote interview on Sunday afternoon. A

specific projects? Of particular interest

medium - television, film, a book. Kring’s

slightly wooden delivery but nonetheless

was Victoria Ha and her ‘Redress Remix

thesis is that technology has changed

entertaining to see several thousand ‘fan-

‘project for Toronto’s Stitch Media as was

everything, providing new tools for a

boys’ tweeting their asses off with one eye

the input from Dan Gluckman, the man

story to play out across multiple media

on the jumbotron.

behind BBC web 2.0 experiment; the

platforms, engaging and interacting with

Virtual Revolution.

audiences across a variety of screens.

There were many highlights of our visit (and

structure and joined-up approach to developing the programme brand and its loyal followers. That’s a snapshot of Frank’s whirlwind trip to Austin. We managed to cram a lot more in - attending sessions on game culture, design thinking, agency process, workflow, and several ‘app-tastic’ sessions on mobile marketing and design. Too much to document but eye-opening and inspired. Williams_(blogger)

Heroes has been held up as the de facto

we can only speak about the Interactive

‘Extending the movie’s narrative online’

‘ How to…’ of multi-platform delivery and

section), but here’s our top five…

was another enlightening panel format.

the examples provided were stunning in

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their sheer detail, adherence to narrative

A publication by the Institute of Designers in Ireland

Issue 2, June 2010.

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Channel 4 Racing David Phealan MIDI

Channel 4 Racing embraced a new look in time for the Cheltenham Festival back in March of this year. The restyling coincided with the recently renewed 3-year media rights agreement and Channel 4’s strategy to deliver horse racing to increasing audiences. David Phelan of Mode Vision was

was to creating attractive, legible content

shots. Recycling text within given areas

approached back in August 2009 to pitch

which displays all relevant information

of the screen in an effort to compliment

ideas and visuals for a new on-screen

to the viewer in a manner which is both

the live action shots rather than obscure

brand. Having delivered a successful

inviting and informative. A multitude of

the viewers enjoyment. An enhanced

pitch, Mode Vision was charged with

graphic pages and pre-templated layouts

application of the ‘Silks’, through a

the task of designing a new look which

to cover all scenarios had to be designed.

new styled suggestive approach was

would become synonymous with Channel

Horse racing coverage is probably the

also derived, moving forward from the

4 Racing. The brief was to create a style

most graphic intensive of all sports on our

traditional jockey colours in an effort to

and palette which can be easily adopted

screens. With an average 6 races during

make it easier for the viewer to spot their

across all relevant media (e.g. titles,

each transmission the amount of betting

favourite horse. New menu scenes and

stings, replay wipes, set design elements,

information, runners and riders details,

runners and riders montages were also

editing etc.), and to exploit the new

form cards and other statistical racing

created from the new shapes and forms, a

chosen 3D CG (character generator) to

information that needs to be catered for

thoroughfare of rotating panels animating

it’s potential, developing a dynamic and

can be quite substantial.

in and out of view revealing ingested or

compelling new look to this energetic sports broadcast.

live VT shots and displaying software The approach undertaken was to

driven data relevant to the visuals.

combine fashionable colour and shapes Highflyer Productions, who produce the

with an innovative 3D approach. A new

This new dynamic approach is also

racing for Channel 4, recognized the

colour palette of cyan, rust and white

complimented by various sound effects

need to embrace change. This junction

was chosen with 3 complimentary text

which further enhance the movement and

saw their graphics workflow transformed

colours. These are used in a variety of

subtleties of the new brand. Each page

from a 2D platform (Aston Reds) into

combinations to suit the diverse range

animation has an accompanying sound

the new world of 3D real-time sports

of graphic layouts giving emphasis and

effect, create by Ivan Fitzpatrick Music,

graphics. All new live on-screen graphics

prominence to specific information. The

which adds an extra flavour to the graphic

were to be considered and built on the

movement and text reveals were all given

scenes, giving punctuation where needed

VizRT – a state of the art live 3D graphics

added subtleties and purpose within the

and a hint of movement.

system. This new CG although it gives

new 3D environment.

the operator somewhat less flexibility to

‘Flama’ is also a well-kerned font, with letter spacing which is proportional and specific to individual kerning pairs. Denise Large, Channel Four Racing’s director and project leader, explains: “Our innovative graphics were created by David Phelan – Mode Vision - a top sport’s graphic artist, and I’m really delighted as they will give a modern 3D feel to our programme. The work has wonderful energy and that is just what racing is all about.” For more information please visit

The chosen font ‘Flama Semi Condensed’

generate last minute free form graphics,

The animation is an integral part of the

has a wide range of weights. This is

it does allow for much more complex &

build. Transitions between different

important as it supports a multitude

creative 3D scenes to be built and played

layouts and quick load times all need

of layouts giving emphasis to specific

out in real time. This opened up a new

to be considered. A modular approach

information. As legibility is paramount,

world of possibilities and challenges for

with a panel based set up was designed

this semi-condensed family manifests

the designer.

to facilitate the required functionality.

itself in a clean and accurate manner.

Long standing graphics templates were

With its neutral flavour, ‘Flama’ proves

Capturing the viewers imagination and

updated and the real-estate on-screen

to be highly efficient for displaying an

attention is paramount. The requirement

is used more effectively to flatter live

abundance of information in limited

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spaces while still maintaining it’s clarity.

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Spec or No Spec? Con Kennedy


The issue of clients requesting Speculative work from designers is becoming more commonplace. The issues regarding Speculative work or ‘Free Pitching’ have been debated for a long time and are now compounded by the economic down turn, meaning that some designers are now more willing to work for free while others have taken the opposite view.

Recently, a Government Department

Clients requesting work for free

in this type of tendering process.

made a Request for Tender (RFT) for the

demonstrates a lack of respect for the

In certain design disciplines, such as

design of reports and literature through

designer & the design process, the value

architecture, advertising and broadcast

the E-Tenders website and as part of this

& benefits that effective design has

design, business practices differ and

tender, requested that creative work was

for the client and for the time of the

professionals have been expected to

to be submitted as part of the application.

professionals who are asked to provide

participate in speculative work. This

This practice is not uncommon and

it. Speculative design work threatens the

usually occurs where the initial design

requesting new and original work to be

integrity and work ethic of our profession,

is not the final product and is followed

created in this manner, is one that seriously

commoditises our industry and destroys

by extended financial engagement to

compromises the quality of work that is

the value of design.

refine or execute a design. But also, in

presented. Clients requesting speculative design work has a long term damaging effect on the industry, this is recoginsed both in Ireland and internationally.

Successful design work results from a collaborative process between a client & designer

Successful design work results from a

Neither the designer nor the client

these disciplines, budgets tend to be

collaborative process between a client

benefit from work created in a speculative

significantly higher and there is also an

and the designer, with the intention of the

manner. Because designers have no

opportunity to exhibit any work produced,

designer to develop a clear sense of the

guarantee of remuneration, those who

in communication design, this is rarely

client’s objectives, competitive situation

work on spec are unlikely to engage in

the case.

and their commercial needs. Speculative

the full design process and conduct the

design competitions or processes, result

research and analysis needed to produce

Best practice internationally strongly

in a superficial assessment of the work

effective work. As work carried out in

discourages client’s requesting design

submitted and is not grounded in a

this manner often means that there is no

work to be produced and submitted

client’s business dynamics quite often,

provision of or opportunity for a client

on a speculative basis in order to be

there is no clear brief or objectives given

briefing, the designers’ abilities to act

considered for acceptance as part of

from the outset.

as professional consultants, partners

a tender or pitch. Organisations such

or members of the client’s strategic

as AIGA, ICOGRADA, Design Business

Design creates value for our clients.

communications team are, therefore not

Association, Business Design Ireland,

The strategic approach designers take

utilised, further undermining the work

the Association of Registered Graphic

in addressing the clearly identified

carried out by the design professional.

Designers of Ontario and NO!SPEC all

problems or needs of the client is one

discourage their members to produce

of great importance. Speculative or

Producing work in a speculative manner

open competitions for work based on

also places smaller design companies and

a perfunctory problem statement will

sole traders at a distinct disadvantage,

Many of these organisations have

not result in the most effective design

due to time, cost and resources required

position papers for clients on how to

solution for the client.

to produce speculative work and engage

hire design firms, but pointing the finger

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speculative work.

A publication by the Institute of Designers in Ireland

There may also be legal implications in terms of intellectual property and trademark infringement with work produced in a speculative manner. at the client and telling them how to

There may also be legal implications

producing speculative work. The selected

their job is a fudging of responsibilities.

in terms of intellectual property and

designers can then begin to work on the

Design organisations have influence with

trademark infringement with work

assignment by producing an original

designers, not clients and should use their

produced in a speculative manner. The

solution to the client’s brief, while under

influence to raise the level of business

Copyright and Related Act may be clear

contract and without having to work on

acumen amongst their membership.

on who ‘created’ the work, but who

speculation up front.

This would help raise the esteem of the

has the right to use work created in a

profession and deal with the issues of free

speculative pitch?

pitching. Recently, the Design Business

But ultimately it up to us to end this practice and to educate and inform our

Association (UK) published a report titled

The design process should not be a

clients to the best way to commission

‘Design and the Public Good’ with the

one-way street, with designers producing

design. There will always be designers

view to advise the UK Government on how

work in a vacuum, with no brief or

willing to produce Speculative work and

to procure design services in an ethical

understanding of the client’s business

designers who fear that they will not win

manner. But it’s not just State Bodies who

objectives. The most effective design

business if they do not participate in

request speculative work, our commercial

solutions comes from the request of a

these competitions, but it is a risky path

clients do also.

specific client brief and partnering with the

for both designer and clients.

client to a successful outcome. Speculative From a business perspective, producing

design tenders result in superficial

Further reading:

speculative work raises other issues.

assessments of the project at hand that are

There is the issues costs associated

not grounded in the client’s specific needs

with undertaking work in this manner,

or strategy.

overheads incurred and cost undertaken


as part of unsuccessful bids will clearly

A more effective and ethical approach

have to be covered by subsequent

to commission work is for the client to

tenders - in other words, if this client’s

request a panel of suitable designers


doesn’t pay, the next one will. Is this fair

to submit examples work from previous

to our clients? And, therefore it begs the

assignments accompanied with a

question... is it really a ‘free’ pitch?

statement of how they would approach the assignment in question. This way

Speculative work is done at no cost to the

the client can assess the quality of the

client, in the hope of getting paid, does

designers previous work and their way of

this sound like a sustainable business

thinking without the designers having to


supplement the costs and overheads of

Issue 2, June 2010.

13 :ratio

The destruction & reconstruction of Irish brands Niall Corcoran


The past two years have seen dramatic, across the board, changes in Irish industry. We have witnessed the decline of brands previously held up as stalwarts of Ireland’s Celtic Tiger success. Some of these recognisable names are simply no more, require serious make-over or are re-emerging having had their bones picked over via the many liquidations and examinerships that have occurred. During Ireland’s boom years, mergers and

it owned (e.g. Sigmar, Interaction, Ely

stance now. With consumer sentiment

acquisitions kept many of our top law

Property) are now under new ownership.

less open to the “friendly local bank

firms busy as captains of industry sought

One of the first major considerations for

manager” and more inclined towards a

to consolidate, grow market share and

the new owners of these companies was

trustworthy but tough task master actions

build super brands that could dominate

to measure the damage, if any, done to

such as these have been necessary in

their sectors.

their brand reputations. Damage, which

the tentative steps towards rebuilding

can often occur when a business fails.

trust. An example of this is the public

Acquiring other companies and absorbing

What to do? Revitalise them, absorb their

response to the Financial Regulator’s

them into one strong brand was the

operations into another brand or look to

actions with regard to Quinn Insurance.

quickest way to scale and grow a business

rebrand them?

With recent news of an 18% government

and a sure fire way to greater riches. Much of this activity was driven by private equity houses and financier’s who didn’t necessarily have an interest in the business they owned. In many

The brands of our major banks in particular have taken a hammering and trust has been decimated in some cases.

cases little thought was given to how the

All sectors, from retail to banking have

stake in one of our largest banks, AIB,

newly acquired brands had successfully

been affected by this trend. The brands

the general population is waiting to be

built their reputations and concentrated

of our major banks in particular have

shown that they will be remunerated for

on the short-term objective of making

taken a hammering and trust has been

their investment.

profit. Much of this activity involved huge

decimated in some cases. The difficult

amounts of debt being transferred to the

task for many of our banks will be to

Probably the most visible change to

balance sheets of these companies in

credibly reposition themselves and

the Irish brand landscape has been in

the same way that property developer’s

somehow come out the other side with

the retail sector. O’Briens sandwiches,

and indeed, public bodies e.g. The

a believable proposition. This won’t

Budget Travel, EP Mooney, Sasha,

Dublin Dockland Development Authority

happen overnight but at least some seem

Chartbusters and others have all gone

speculated on a never ending boom.

to be taking the right steps in distancing

through some form of liquidation,

themselves from recent mistakes by

receivership or examinership. While many

A good example of this was the Newcourt

changing many of the senior executives

Irish people were travelling the world

Group which scaled its business rapidly

associated with them. Indeed there

buying real estate, O’Brien’s was hailed

through the acquisition of companies

has been a lot of media coverage about

as a good example of the globe-trotting

in diverse industries like security,

possible court actions being taken

Irish company who were invading foreign

recruitment, student accommodation,

against former senior managers, with a

lands and introducing a new Irish brand

call centres etc. Newcourt went into

few notable high profile arrests, aimed

to the world. O’Brien’s is under new

receivership in 2009 and the brands that

at communicating a much tougher

ownership and therefore, the brand is

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A publication by the Institute of Designers in Ireland

Issue 2, June 2010.

15 :ratio

If you shop for in Aldi or Lidl and purchase cornflakes or other stable diet items you will see a differential of up to 35% cheaper than the traditional branded products Irish consumers have been used to. likely to still feature prominently on the

in Aldi or Lidl and purchase cornflakes

perhaps its now time to be cautiously

Irish streets as in their recent campaign

or other stable diet items you will see a

optimistic about the future. With

with Rachel Allen. However, others like

differential of up to 35% cheaper than

Goodbody Stockbrokers becoming the

Sasha may never be seen again. Like

the traditional branded products Irish

latest to report that Ireland’s economy

them or loathe them, these brands were

consumers have been used to. How

resumed growth in the first quarter of

a very visible part of our landscape, they

FMCG brands will go about winning back

this year, Irish brands (new and old) will

were familiar and will be missed.

lost market share will be interesting

play an important role in helping build

to watch in 2010? Many have started

confidence in the business community.

Those brands that do survive will in

campaigns based on their “Irishness” but

Likewise the IDA has an important job

all likelihood need to re-evaluate their

we will have to wait to see if the public’s

to do in selling Ireland Inc abroad. As

relationship with customers. Consumers

response will be as positive as to similar

Warren Buffett once said “It takes 20

in particular are forcing brands to

campaigns in the 1980’s.

years to build a reputation and only five

change their product offering, pricing

minutes to ruin it. If you think about that

and messaging. A recent McKinsey

Through all this carnage will undoubtedly

Quarterly Report talked about US

come opportunities for others to either

consumers having learned to switch

acquire brands through receivership

to cheaper brands/products in the

or liquidation and to revitalise and

recession, and that many may never

re-invigorate them, or to step into

move back up to the more expensive

the gap that has been presented by

brands again, as they have found that

the demise of others with a new and

the cheaper brand/product is at least

stronger brand proposition. One obvious

as good as the more expensive branded

brand that might change or undergo a

product. When the recession ends, will it

metamorphosis is Quinn Insurance and

be business as usual?

the wider Quinn Group. These new brands

you will do things differently”

will airbrush the past, create new futures, Throughout 2009, in Southern Ireland

change our landscape and start the

many FMCG brands were slow to pass

process of building loyalties with us the

on the Stg/Euro currency devaluation

Irish public. The O2 and Aviva Stadium

(35% in 3 years) to the local consumer.

have replaced The Point and Lansdowne

Increasingly Irish consumers became

Road and these will surely not be the

aware of this as evidenced by the

last to replace the old world order. There

numbers who have now shopped up

will no doubt be much change over the

North. What damage is this likely to do

coming years ahead.

to FMCG brands, trust in brand owners and even Blue Chip brand owners is yet

We’ve ratified Lisbon, created NAMA and

to be fully seen? If you shop for example

taken our medicine with the Budget so

ratio: 16

A publication by the Institute of Designers in Ireland

Issue 2, June 2010.

17 :ratio

Spotlight: Zinc Design When was Zinc design established?

Highlights of the campaigns included

projects so it’s important to get the

Zinc began life in Clarke’s front room in

working with creative performers,

balance right. Our team is hugely

August 2001 when designers Tara Clarke

helping to double sales through effective

important as we know the work is only as

and Amanda Brady joined forces with

promotion and being nominated for an

good as the people we work with. Team

Ruth Kelleher. Within a few months, with

Irish Theatre Award.

members include graduates of NCAD,

an expanding team, we moved to Baggot

DLIART, AIT, DIT and CIT. Our team is

Street, where we stayed for over 4 years.

ArcLight was a start-up company with

Dave Kenny, Denise Nestor, June Foley,

In the summer 2006, we moved to our

a tight budget to work to. The company

Kelly MacKenzie, Leonie Henson, Lizzy

new home in Rathmines.

offers light design services to, among

Healy, Maggie Brennan, Paul Breen, Ruth

others, architects – a visually literate

Kelleher, Susan Manning and Tara Clarke.

What was the first job?

sector that appreciates design in all in

We developed a suite of materials for

manifestations. Our solution involved a

What makes you unique?

McNaughton Papers’ Designer Choice to

careful consideration of colour, materials

Up until this year, we never promoted

promote all their paper stocks. This was

and print finishes which resulted in a

the studio and all our work came through

an exciting and challenging campaign

minimalist execution. We were delighted

word of mouth. We believe our approach

as the target audience was our own

to win the IDI Grand Prix award for this

to design, our passion for our work and

community – designers. We created a

project. It was the first identity project to

our ability to problem solve is why people

visual brand for the company’s paper

win the Grand Prix.

are happy to recommend us and continue

portfolio. Our approach was to develop a

to work with us.

suite of logos that were simple in format,

As a studio we work collaboratively.

with subtle variations in illustration and

No project is ever the work of just one

What do you do best?

a vibrant colour palette. The branding

individual so the final project that

It sounds simple – we listen. That’s how

system worked well from the outset and,

stands out is Hotel Ballymun. This was

we come to fully understand what each

as a result, the project expanded to

a collaborative project commissioned

project needs to achieve for the client.

include stationery, brochures and support

by Breaking Ground, an arts programme

This becomes our compass and guides

materials. It was a great starting point for

based in Ballymun. Artist Seamus Nolan

the creative process that brings the

the studio.

worked closely with local communities

messages to life.

and businesses to transform the top floor A job you’re proud of?

of Clarke Tower in Ballymun into a hotel

Where to now?

It’s difficult to choose any one project

which remained open for one month. We

This is a challenging time for the design

as each one presents its own unique

worked with the team in Breaking Ground

community. But with these challenges

opportunities and challenges. We are

and the artist to create publications that

come opportunities to rethink how projects

fortunate to work across a wide range

reflected the artist’s vision, captured

are approached and reassess how to

of sectors, so there is there is always

the spirit of the venture and recognised

deliver effective creative solutions. As a

something new to look at. A number of

the building’s architectural and social

team, we are optimistic, remain passionate

projects stand out for different reasons.

heritage. This was the final chapter in the

and look forward to new opportunities.

life of these iconic Dublin buildings and We worked for the Dublin Fringe Festival

it was great to play a part in it.

Zinc Design

for 3 years. The project required

Who are your Team?

10 Castlewood Avenue

ingenuity, creativity and discipline to

From the beginning, we looked to work


deliver a campaign and materials that

with exciting, passionate and talented

Dublin 6

brought the Festival to a wider audience.

people. We work collaboratively on

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A publication by the Institute of Designers in Ireland

Issue 2, June 2010.

19 :ratio

What’s next? It’s up to you! We would be delighted to hear any suggestions or feedback you have on Ratio and if you would like to submit a piece for future issues please email A big thanks to everyone who participated in this our first issue.

ratio: 20

A publication by the Institute of Designers in Ireland

Issue 2, June 2010.

21 :ratio

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